Leaders Club is the loyalty program of The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW), one of the largest and most prestigious luxury hotel collections in the world. Comprising more than 400 hotels in over 80 countries, LHW hotels are curated for the curious discerning traveler in search of their next discovery. No matter how much I like LHW, their loyalty program Leaders Club is a disgrace (since you need to pay a hefty fee for membership to enjoy benefits that you can get for free via other booking channels, such as Virtuoso). In this overview, I explain the Leaders Club loyalty program:

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LEADERS CLUB : MEMBERSHIP TIERS & BENEFITS

There are no qualification requirements for Leaders Club, as membership is outright purchased, after which it remains in effect for one year. These are the three tiers within the program:

  • Club membership is the base level, and comes with an annual fee of $170 USD. This will get you the following benefits:
    • Upgrade priority at arrival, subject to availability
    • Complimentary continental breakfast for two each day
    • Complimentary internet access
    • Early check-in and late check-out, subject to availability
    • One pre-arrival upgrade per year (after your first paid stay)
    • Exclusive members-only offers and rates
    • Earning hotel points (1 point per 1 USD spend) towards free nights
  • Sterling membership requires a $170 USD annual fee and a minimum spend of USD 5,000 USD on room rates at LHW properties per calendar year. Sterling membership commences on the date you earn Sterling status and will continue through December 31st of the following calendar year. For example, status earned in April 2019 will last through 31st December 2020. Sterling membership gets you the following benefits :
    • Upgrade priority at arrival, subject to availability
    • Complimentary continental breakfast for two each day
    • Complimentary internet access
    • Early check-in and late check-out, subject to availability
    • Five pre-arrival upgrades per year
    • Exclusive members-only offers and rates
    • Earning hotel points (1 point per 1 USD spend) towards free nights
    • An annual renewal points bonus, equal to 5% of the room rate you spend in USD or the currency equivalent, excluding taxes and fees, during the membership year immediately preceding your membership renewal.
  • Aurelian membership is the program’s premium and invitation-only tier, awarded to travelers who belong to LHW’s top 1% of customers (minimum $10,000 USD spend on room rates per calendar) and are willing to pay another $1,500 USD fee (which makes no sense at all). In addition to the Sterling benefits, Aurelian members also get:
    • Complimentary one-way airport to hotel transfers in 30 cities (capped at $300 USD per membership year).
    • An annual renewal points bonus, equal to 8,8 % of the room rate you spend in USD or the currency equivalent, excluding taxes and fees, during the membership year immediately preceding your membership renewal.
    • Unlimited number of upgrade requests (one category – no suites)
    • No blackout dates on point awards


PROS & THINGS I LIKE ABOUT LEADERS CLUB
  • The LHW collection mainly consists of independent high-end hotels that work together under the LHW umbrella to increase their sales, marketing, and revenue. Remarkably, the LHS portfolio does include some properties that are managed by luxury hotel chains, such as a few Kempinski, Constance, Raffles, Langham, and One&Only hotels.
  • Leaders Club members have access to special rates and offers at LHW hotels across the globe, with up to 20% off the best available rate with every booking. These rates are available exclusively for Leaders Club members and are not available anywhere else. Simply search hotels and rates, then sign-in as a Leaders Club member to view the discounted rates.
  • Leaders Club members earn one Leaders Club point for every USD they spend on the room rate at a LHW hotel for each qualifying stay, with a maximum of three rooms per booking. Your Leaders Club account must be activated and associated with the booking prior to your arrival to earn Leaders Club points for that stay. These points can be used for free hotel nights at other LHW properties, with redemptions beginning at 4,000 points.
  • Leaders Club is one of the very few programs that rewards loyalty for stays at luxury hotels. Hotels using the program make efforts to reward their most loyal guests. In comparison, hotel chains such as Four Seasons, Rosewood, Aman, and Banyan Tree do not offer a loyalty program.
  • The program is uncomplicated and thus very easy to understand. You collect points that you can spend on free nights and you also get some benefits at LHW properties.
  • When staying for the first time at a LHW property, you may be offered one year complimentary Leaders Club level membership to make you familiar with the program. Not all LHW hotels offer this gift (you’re most likely to get it at the very high-end and expensive properties).


CONS & THINGS I DON’T LIKE ABOUT LEADERS CLUB

There’s a lot not to like about Leaders Club. Actually, I consider it to be one of the worst loyalty programs around, and I don’t recommend to pay the annual membership fee, since you can get most perks associated with Leaders Club membership for free by making your booking via Virtuoso (unless you spend considerable time at one of the Leading Hotels of the World properties on business).

  • In 2018, Leaders Club underwent a massive devaluation, making the program almost useless. Prior to the devaluation, members received vouchers towards free stays, guaranteed 4PM check out, complimentary Club status for family members, and complimentary Priority Pass status, but that’s a thing of the past now.
  • Benefits can only be enjoyed as long as you make your bookings via the official LHW website or through one of LHW’s worldwide reservations and service centers. Making your booking directly on the official hotel website will not get you any benefit.
  • Leaders Club is one of the few hotel loyalty schemes that does not earn you frequent flyer miles.
  • Redemptions begin at 4,000 points but it’s not clear how many points you need per property (the number of points probably fluctuates depending on the season and room rate). So basically, you are buying yourself into a program with very vague terms & conditions.
  • Leaders Club has a pathetic best rate guarantee program. If you find a lower rate for your reservation within 24 hours of booking with them, they simply match it without applying any additional discount.
  • The pre-arrival upgrades are only valid for rooms, not suites.
  • Leaders Club is one of the few programs where you exclusively earn status by purchasing it. Contrary to most other hotel loyalty programs, there’s no other way to earn elite status with LHW, no matter how often you stay with them.
  • As mentioned above, most LHW properties belong to Virtuoso portfolio. As such, you will receive many of the same benefits when booking via Virtuoso as you would get as a Leaders Club member (and you don’t have to pay membership fee for that). So the program definitely isn’t the only way to get VIP perks at the hotels that are part of the LHW portfolio.


MY REVIEWS OF LUXURY HOTELS COVERED BY LEADERS CLUB

KEY POINTS
  • LHW’s loyalty program, Leaders Club, can only accessed by paying a fee.
  • The program is useless since you can get the same benefits (without paying an annual fee) when booking LHW hotels via Virtuoso.

POLL


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